The Well is a faith-based organization in Washington C.H. that is “here for everybody,” regardless of their religious beliefs. Jon Creamer, the executive director at The Well, said, “We’re all volunteer-driven, so we need some help in some areas.”
Creamer sat down with the Record-Herald recently in order to allay common community concerns or misconceptions about The Well, located at 721 S. Fayette St., and to express the need for volunteers.
The meal program takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 5 p.m. Volunteers arrive at 4 p.m. to assist with preparation of meals, serving food to their neighbors and assisting with clean-up. According to Creamer, in 2018 they served 4,153 meals.
The Well’s Free Store is a service that provides personal care items and clothing to households at no cost. The store is open on Mondays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., as well as on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Creamer explained, “Food stamps won’t cover some of these things.”
Bread of Life is another food-based service. Neighbors can come in on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. to shop in the pantry. Volunteers arrive at 8 a.m. A continental breakfast and hot lunch are served for the shoppers.
Creamer explained when The Well first started, it only offered a free store and meal program. Organizers were confused as to why the same people were continuously coming back for clothes. The Well realized, “They couldn’t launder them.”
Loads of Love provides a service so people can launder their clothing. Neighbors can go to W&W Dry Cleaners on Tuesdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers record names of those serviced, and dispense quarters, tide pods and dryer sheets at no cost.
According to Creamer, in 2018 there were 1,191 loads of laundry done, 2,591 dryer sheets provided and 624 hours of volunteer time supplied. He said, “It’s not very demanding. Basically, [volunteers] just hang out and chat with their neighbors.”
The Well still has its income tax filing service. It is through the Ohio Benefit bank. According to Creamer, last year The Well was fourth in Ohio for highest amount of returns filed: 1,158. The refunds and credits approximated $1.7 million.
Kids’ Hope USA is a national program that began in 1995 to pair volunteers through churches with children. Schools pay nothing to be part of this program while churches pay an affiliate/ license fee. The program involves 24/7 on-call child psychologists and professional counselors.
The program was piloted through The Well last year at Cherry Hill Primary and was so successful they expanded it to Belle Aire Intermediate. The focus, according to Creamer, is to “provide a meaningful adult relationship.” Creamer expressed hope they can bring in more volunteers as they have a waiting list of children who want to be in the program.
Volunteers spend one hour per week socializing with a child by reading or working puzzles while they are at school. Children can ask to be part of the program, but can also be recommended by teachers, principles and counselors. Then permission is gained from their parents.
Creamer expressed concern over the view that some in the community believe The Well is enabling poverty, but what they try to do is “combat poverty.”
He explained, “What we see here, number one is the situational poor.” These are people who were stable but then have a medical emergency or get unexpectedly laid off. “All of us are one medical emergency away from being poor,” he said.
“Under-employed” are those who don’t make enough or don’t get enough hours at their job. Creamer said, “In Fayette County, an awful lot of people only make 9 dollars, 10 dollars or 12 dollars an hour, if you’re lucky.” He also explained that the community has a lot of disabled poor who need a little extra help to make ends meet.
Creamer explained that services The Well offers can supplement needs that aren’t always met through other sources.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 740-333-5088 or drop by The Well for more information and a tour. Donations of funds, clean and gently used clothing, shoes, coats, personal care items, laundry items and cleaning supplies are always welcomed and needed.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @kenanipel.